PANTHERS (13-23-6) at RANGERS (21-17-4)
TV: SUN, MSG
Last 10: Florida 4-6-0; New York 5-4-1
Season series: This is the second of three meetings. The Florida Panthers beat the new York Rangers 3-1 on March 21 at Madison Square Garden.
Big story: The Rangers remain embroiled in a battle for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are tied for eighth with the Winnipeg Jets, but hold the tiebreaker with a game in hand.
Panthers: Florida is on track to finish 30th in the League standings and guarantee itself a top-two pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. The Panthers didn't change course on that Tuesday, losing 5-2 to the New York Islanders. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom was under attack all night, allowing five goals on 18 shots before being pulled early in the second period.
"There's so many small things that have an impact on the outcome of the game," Markstrom said. "It's just tough right now. The game just ended, but it's embarrassing. It's never fun to get pulled as a goalie. Anybody's that's been a goalie and been pulled, it's embarrassing. It's tough."
Rangers: Starting Thursday in Philadelphia, the Rangers began a season-ending stretch of six games against teams outside of the top eight in the East. It didn't benefit them that night, as they fell behind early and generated a rally that fell short in a 3-2 loss.
"Every game is a playoff game -- we know that," captain Ryan Callahan said. "It's so tight battling for that playoff spot. Every point is really important right now. We have to put this behind us and we've got another huge game Thursday. We can't dwell on it. We have to move forward."
Who's hot: Rangers center Derek Stepan has five goals and five assists in eight April games.
Injury report: Florida is missing Jose Theodore (groin), Ed Jovanovski (hip), Mike Weaver (lower body), Eric Selleck (concussion), Kris Versteeg (knee), Stephen Weiss (wrist) and Sean Bergenheim (groin). … Rangers forward Brian Boyle left Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury and did not return. His status for Thursday is questionable. Defenseman Marc Staal is progressing, but doesn't sound close to returning as he battles blurry vision in his right eye. Forward Derek Dorsett (collarbone) is out.
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